Review: Nissan Rogue Hybrid is efficient, functional crossover

The vehicle stretches the definition of a compact SUV.

WHAT’S NEW: The updated interior of the Rogue has a sensible layout and the latest infotainment.
WHAT’S NEW: The updated interior of the Rogue has a sensible layout and the latest infotainment. –George Kennedy

Boston.com Cars is your go-to resource for coverage of local car news, events, and reviews. In the market for a car or truck? Check out our new car specials and used car specials curated by our local dealer network.

It’s no secret that the compact SUV/crossover segment is the fastest growing corner of the new car market—and it’s easy to see why. These vehicles offer the peace of mind of a tall driving position, the comfort of a car-like ride, and the cargo space of an SUV.

It’s the automotive equivalent of having your cake and eating it too, but there are some limitations.

Advertisement

Typically, this size vehicle can only be offered with two rows of seating. In the past, some vehicles, like the Toyota RAV4, were offered with a third row. Now, only one entrant in this segment offers a third row, the Nissan Rogue. The Rogue provides one of the largest cargo capacities in the segment, and as much as seven-passenger seating, so what can make that any better? Offering a fuel-efficient hybrid drivetrain.

The 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid is one of the largest and most capable vehicles in this segment. It is not so much capable in the way that rival Jeep Cherokee is capable on the trail. Rather, the Rogue Hybrid delivers features that are key to mastering the daily commute and getting the kids to practice.

The Rogue Hybrid has a really sharp exterior appearance, which has been tweaked for 2017. The assertive headlight design frames the Nissan family grille design. Along the side, chrome frames the window sills and continues in a strong character line that moves diagonally upward. In the context of other crossovers like the aforementioned Cherokee and redesigned Honda CR-V, the Rogue features less “out-there” styling, and it is a handsome look.
SHARP FUEL-SAVER: The Rogue Hybrid benefits from the entire Rogue lineup receiving a mild exterior refresh. —George Kennedy

That strong yet staid look continues on the interior, where the controls have a very sensible layout. There are ample places to put cups, water bottles, and all other manner of gear. When it comes to cupholders and cubbies, the Rogue Hybrid is like a Swiss army knife. This interior design has been updated for 2017, and the cabin updates are actually more considerable than the exterior ones.

The non-Hybrid Rogue is available with an optional third row seat, which helps achieve the seven-passenger seating capacity. The optimal max cargo space on the non-Hybrid Rogue is 70 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. That’s slightly behind the Honda CR-V (75.8 cu. ft.), Toyota RAV4 (73.4 cu. ft.), and Subaru Forester (74.7 cu. ft.), but still provides a substantial amount of room.

Advertisement

But you’re going to have to make a tough choice with the Rogue. You can either get the optional third row, or you can get a hybrid—but you can’t get both.

The hybrid’s battery pack system cuts into the rear space to the point where it would just not be possible to have it both ways. It also cuts max cargo space down to 61.4 cubic feet, and 27.3 cubic feet with the second row up. Though you lose the option of the third row seat, you do gain room for a compact spare tire, which provides some peace of mind on those long trips

You also gain the hybrid drivetrain, which consists of a 141-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-4, combined with a lithium-ion battery pack, and an electric motor to produce 176 net system horsepower. Power is sent to the front wheels or available all-wheel-drive.

The EPA rates fuel economy for the FWD model at 33 mpg city, 35 mpg highway, 34 combined. The AWD model returns fuel economy of 31 mph city, 34 mpg highway, 33 combined. We found fuel economy of 32.5 mpg for combined driving with the FWD model.

Acceleration for the Rogue Hybrid is decent, though it won’t blow your hair back. Cornering feels solid, as you can work your way in and out of a rotary at a decent clip. The steering is well weighted, and you get some semblance of steering feedback, even if it is artificial.

Brake feel is a little odd, as the brakes themselves have great stopping power, but there is no brake feedback coming from the pedal. The suspension manages bumps in the road well, without being too soft. In all, the general drive feel is inoffensive, though far from exciting.

Advertisement

The Rogue Hybrid comes with a full complement of front- and side-impact airbags, traction control, and LATCH system for anchoring child seats. Our SL test model also came with features like blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic high beam headlights.

Our test model also came with the SL Premium Package, which costs $1,520 and included the large panoramic power moonroof and forward emergency braking. The last is a form of forward collision alert and avoidance and helps the Rogue Hybrid earn a Top Safety Pick+ accolade from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The “+” indicates the ability to minimize, avoid, or prevent collisions.

Base MSRP for the 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid is $26,240 for the Hybrid SV trim, and $31,310 for the Hybrid SL. Our Hybrid SL, as optioned, comes in at $33,620.

Sure, paying over $30,000 for what is technically a compact SUV might not make a ton of sense, but as compact SUVs go, the Rogue Hybrid is one of the larger offerings, with more interior space than you might expect, and a look and feel that places it near the top of the pack.

George Kennedy is a freelance auto writer. He can be reached at George.Kennedy@Bold-ride.com. Follow him on twitter @GKenns101.

 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid

THE BASICS

Price: $26,240. As tested: $33,620. Fuel economy, EPA estimated: 33/35 (FWD) 31/34 (AWD). Fuel economy, Globe observed: 32.5 mpg. Drivetrain: 2.0L I4, CVT, front-wheel-drive. Body: Four-door compact SUV/crossover.

THE SPECIFICS

Horsepower: 176. Overall length: 184.5 in. Wheelbase: 106.5 in. Height: 68.4 in. Width: 72.4 in. Curb weight: 3,624 lbs.

THE GOOD

Plenty of cabin space, solid infotainment, great fuel economy.

THE BAD

Hybrid loses option of third row or added cargo space; more expensive than non-hybrid model.

THE BOTTOM LINE

A spacious, fuel-saving compact SUV that is barely compact.

ALSO CONSIDER

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid